Governor Andrew Cuomo is beginning 2019 a little early. Cuomo, in a speech at the New York City Bar Association, outlined what he admits is an ambitious agenda for the first 100 days of his third term, which starts January 1.
Cuomo’s plans for the New Year include codifying the abortion rights in the 1973 US Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade into state law. He also wants to protect the provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act in state statute, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And he says he’ll seek passage of anti-discrimination legislation for transgender New Yorkers, strengthen gun control laws and expand voting access, including making Election Day a state holiday. And the governor says it’s time to permit victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers, and for New York to join ten other states that have already legalized recreational marijuana.
Cuomo often blamed the failure of many of those items on the State Senate, where Republicans controlled the chamber. He says it will now be easier to enact many of the changes since the Democrats gained nearly two-thirds of the seats in the Senate in November’s election. Democrats already lead the state Assembly.
“Now is the time to make these changes, there are no more excuses, my friends, ” Cuomo said, to applause. “Now is the time to stand up and lead.”
The governor borrowed the theme for his address from a New Yorker who served the longest term as President of The United States- Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Cuomo has said repeatedly that he’s not seeking higher office. But he says because of President Donald Trump and his policies, the nation is facing a “historic social crisis”, similar to the economic crisis one faced by FDR during the Great Depression. And he says in New York, he wants to do something about it.
“We have a President who simply doesn’t believe in FDR's famous Four Freedoms,” said Cuomo, referring to Roosevelt’s speech on January 6, 1941. “And is affirmatively creating fear and want and stifling freedom of speech and worship.”
Cuomo says he wants to extend the state’s temporary tax surcharge on millionaires when it expires at the end of 2019, and he also wants to continue a property tax cap in place since 2011. And he prosed what he calls a “new Green deal” for New York, with a plan to make the state carbon emission neutral by 2040.
Cuomo says even though he will be dealing with a legislature of the same party for the first time since he’s been governor, he does not expect it all to go smoothly and is anticipating some “adversity”.
Some of the disagreements may center on the amount of money the state gives to schools. Many Democrats, including several newly elected state Senators, want the state finally fulfill a 12 year old court order that said New York needs to spend billions more dollars a year on its poorest schools. Cuomo says it’s time to move past that court decision and redistribute existing aid more equitably within individual school districts.
“These are ghosts of the past,” he said. “and distractions from the present.”
The New York State Board of Regents, as well as a group made up of teachers, principals and the school boards association, say state aid to schools needs to be increased by $2 billion dollars to fulfill the court order.
The school funding advocacy group Alliance for a Quality Education, in a statement, followed up on the governor’s Charles Dicken’s “a Christmas Carol” analogy, saying “Cuomo is the Ebenezer Scrooge of public schools”, and that the aid formula devised after the court decision is not a “fictitious ghost of the past” but , it’s New York state law.